Less than a month after U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ended with no tangible progress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing that Jerusalem “will never be divided.”
“Jerusalem is the heart of the nation. It will never be divided," Netanyahu said Tuesday night on the eve of celebrations for Israel’s Jerusalem Day holiday on Wednesday, marking the anniversary of the 1967 war during which Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan.
“My dear friends, 47 years ago Jerusalem was united. That is how it always was. And this is how it will always be," Netanyahu told students at a Jewish religious seminary according to the Jerusalem Post.
From 1948, when Israel was recognized as an independent state to 1967, the city was divided, with the western part as Israel’s capital and the eastern part under Jordanian control. Today, Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of the future state to which they aspire.
Secretary of State John Kerry in recent months promoted a framework agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, but talks broke up last month with no concrete accomplishment. While Kerry never divulged the exact borders to which the Obama administration expected Israel to withdraw, media reports earlier this year suggested those would sit roughly around the 1967 lines, which would mean east Jerusalem would go to the Palestinians.
The Post reported that Netanyahu on Tuesday night emphasized the Jewish connection to Jerusalem which goes back thousands of years.
“We are safeguarding our heart, the nation’s heart, and we will never divide our heart,” Netanyahu said. “Because it is the nation’s heart it must be connected to Israel’s eternal future.”
On Wednesday, Palestinians rioted on the Temple Mount while thousands of Jews visited the Western Wall below to pray on the Jerusalem Day holiday.
Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld posted a photo of the worshipers at the Western Wall.
Security measures in Jerusalem throughout today. Thousands pray at western wall for Jerusalem day celebrations pic.twitter.com/3mXqpnh9rf— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) May 28, 2014
Israel's Ynet News reported that masked Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount then barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Rosenfeld said that there were no injuries and that the site was reopened a short time later.
Netanyahu spoke at the Mercaz Harav Kook seminary where in 2008 eight Israelis – seven of them teenagers – were shot dead by a Palestinian gunman.